Two-time FA Cup winner John Barnes has signed a disqualification undertaking which bans him from being a company director for three-and-a-half years. This prevents Mr Barnes from being involved in the promotion, formation, or management of a company without the permission of the court.

The ban came about following an investigation by the Insolvency Service back in 2023 due to Mr Barnes’ company, John Barnes Media Limited, failing to pay any corporation tax and VAT from 2018 to 2020.

This isn’t the first time a footballing figure has faced disqualification from being a company director, former England manager, Terry Venables, was disqualified by the High Court from acting as a company director for seven years due to mismanagement of four companies. More recently the former owner of Rangers Football Club, Craig Whyte, saw himself receive the maximum ban available under the powers of the Insolvency Service (15-year disqualification) for ‘failing to avoid conflict of interest in the running of the club’.

The Insolvency Service oversees and investigates allegations of misconduct by company directors. This investigation will usually come about as a result of a complaint or evidence to suggest that the director acted inappropriately.

The investigation will involve a detailed review of the company’s financial records as well as interviews with the directors. Below are some of the more common misconducts by directors:

  • Failure to pay HMRC

  • Abuse of directors’ loan accounts

  • Drawing dividends illegally

  • Acting as a director while disqualified

It is not necessary to show that a director’s actions were deliberate; it could be the case that the director was simply careless or overworked and this led to their conduct being below the standard expected. The Insolvency Services’ reasoning for seeking disqualification is to prevent the director from repeating any such conduct in the future (the public protection element) and to punish the director for their previous failings.

If you are a director of a company and have concerns regarding disqualification proceedings, please contact our specialists at Farleys on 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email.